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The Census and the Welfare State

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The letter that Ralph Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, recently sent to the American people reflects what America has become under the welfare state. Here is what the letter states in part:

“Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.”

In that one paragraph lies the plunderbund society in all it majestic glory. Everyone is supposed to feel morally obligated to answer all those intrusive questions in order to ensure that his community receives its fair share of the loot forcibly collected by the Internal Revenue Service during the course of the year, but especially on April 15.

You see, all that IRS-collected money goes into a gigantic pool that the president and Congress then have at their disposal to distribute to people.

As Groves points out, some of that IRS-collected money is sent to your “community.” What does “community” mean? Alas, it doesn’t mean you. If it did, that would mean that the federal government would simply be returning your hard-earned money to you.

No, by “community” Groves means your state and local elected and appointed politicians and bureaucrats, who send complicated and expensive proposals to Washington begging and pleading for help to construct some new highway, health-care facility, school, recreational facility, or some other project or program.

Federal grants are announced with tremendous fanfare. The distributing federal agency issues a press release announcing that the city has received a grant of several million dollars to build, say, its new recreation center. The congressman for that district humbly takes credit for the grant. Area newspapers publish editorials extolling local officials for their genius is securing the grant and effusively praising the effectiveness of their congressman.

In the process, most everyone forgets where the money originally came from, or they simply don’t care. All that people focus on is that they’re receiving free money that is coming from the federal government, the all-good, all-caring, all-compassionate entity whose job it is to take care of the citizenry.

A particular sign oftentimes is posted on the project site for passersby to see: “Jobs for your community!” Not only has the federal government provided free funds for your community, it also uses local people to help build the project.

It’s all so grand, so glorious. Who could possibly object to such a process?

Well, that’s where libertarians come in. Libertarians object to the process because it is immoral, crooked, corrupt, fraudulent, and destructive to the core.

The process entails an all-out battle between public officials in different states and cities to get their dirty little hands on as large a portion of the money that has been forcibly taken from people as they can.

Millions of people across the country are struggling financially, but does anyone suggest a moratorium on the payment of income taxes to the IRS? Of course not (well, except for libertarians, who call for a permanent moratorium on income taxation). Nothing must be permitted to interfere with that giant pool of IRS-collected money that federal officials have at their disposal to send to grateful state and local officials.

And no, the process does not create jobs, it simply redistributes them from productive, private-sector projects to politically motivated projects. You see, all the money that the IRS took from people would have brought jobs into existence if people had been left free to keep their own hard-earned money instead of sending it to the IRS. Since those jobs were never permitted to come into existence, you don’t see them. All you see is that “free” health-care facility which federal, state, and local politicians and bureaucrats can point to and say, “Here it is — your free facility that has provided free jobs for your community.”

The sad part of all this is that all too many Americans continue to play right into the celebration and even praise it. Failing to think through what has been done to them and their fellow citizens, they haplessly and pathetically play the role of a theft victim celebrating what has been done to them.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.